England are yet to finalise several important details for their desert campaign against Pakistan – but coach and captain are clear on their commitment to attack whenever possible.
The intent forged last summer – and vindicated by Ashes success – will remain, whoever is chosen as Alastair Cook’s new opening partner and whatever the balance of England’s bowling attack.
The nearest to confirmation of any specifics came from Trevor Bayliss when he projected a debut in the three-Test series for leg-spinner Adil Rashid at England’s arrival press conference in Dubai.
As for the identity of England’s next opener, neither captain nor coach was prepared to tell anyone anything they did not already know – that it is still between Moeen Ali and the uncapped Alex Hales.
Time is short to make the final call, with the first Test starting in Abu Dhabi on October 13. But both contenders, it seems, will have a chance to press their claims in at least one of next week’s two warm-up matches against Pakistan A in Sharjah.
They will do so as part of a team still wedded, even in these more attritional climes, to the bold approach with which the urn was regained two months ago. That will be a stark contrast to the failed attempt to outmanoeuvre Pakistan here in early 2012, when England lost 3-0. Bayliss said: “As with any international team, playing away from home has been a little bit of a struggle over the last few years.
“But we have some young, enthusiastic players. A lot of them have not been overseas that much to play...they’re used to winning, in this last six months.
“I’m sure they’ll be coming out and playing with the same type of approach and attitude – obviously in a little bit different conditions, which they’ve got to get used to.”
Under a different management regime four winters ago, England’s less adventurous gameplan did not pay off – most obviously in Abu Dhabi where they were bowled out for 72.
This time, Bayliss is sure, it will be different. “We’ve got some young inexperienced players, but players with a lot of ability and skill,” he added. “Youthful enthusiasm combined with their skill, there’s no reason they can’t play some good cricket, and we’ll be hard to beat.”